In John 3:14-15, Jesus said, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.”
The Hebrews had been bitten by poisonous serpents. The serpent bites were proving fatal. However, God provided salvation from the serpent bites. That which saved, the brazen serpent, was made into the form of that which wounded, the fiery serpents. Yet, the brazen serpent, unlike the fiery serpents, had no venom. Once lifted up on a pole by Moses, all who looked upon the brazen serpent in faith were saved.
Mankind has been bit by a serpent (the devil). The serpent bite (sin) suffered by our original parents in the Garden of Eden has proven to be lethal to the whole human race (Romans 6:23). God, however, has provided a remedy. He came into the world in the form of a man so that He could die for our sins on the cross of Calvary. Yet, Christ, the God-man, unlike all other men, was without sin. Now that Christ has been lifted up on the cross, all who look to Him in faith are saved.
In John 12:20-22, some Greeks entreat Philip, “Sir, we would see Jesus.” Unaccustomed to such a request—wanting to “see Jesus” rather than receive something from Him—Philip appears uncertain about what to do. Thus, he goes to Andrew, who together with Philip report the Greeks’ unusual request to Jesus. In response, Jesus speaks about His impending death upon the cross (John 12:23-27).
Why, in response to being informed of the Greeks’ desire to see Him, does our Savior speak of His death on the cross? Is it not because the only place where anyone will ever truly see Jesus is on the cross? No wonder Jesus went on to say, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me” (John 12:32). Until Christ was lifted up on the cross, men could neither see Him as the Savior of the world nor be drawn to Him for salvation.
The Apostle Paul made it abundantly clear to the Galatians that his whole purpose in preaching the gospel in Galatia had been to “evidently set forth” before their eyes the crucified Christ (Galatians 3:1). Wherever Paul preached, his aim was always the same, to lift up “Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 1:23; 2:1-5). Paul, unlike many a modern-day preacher, understood that it is only through the preaching of the cross that men come to see Christ as their Savior and are drawn to Him for salvation.
Do you remember how those old-timers used to pray for God to hide the preacher behind the cross? They understood that the need of the lost was to see Christ upon the cross, not their preacher in the pulpit. Tragically, most of the contemporary church has lost total sight of this most significant truth, a fact proven by the array of things currently obscuring the cross from plain sight in modern-day churches. Making matters even worse is the growing number of present-day church goers and pastors who actually see the cross as an obstacle rather than the church’s great drawing power.
I praise you O God, for you are high and lifted up. I thank you for lifting up your Son on the cross of Calvary so that all who believe in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. I pray that you will use me or a fellow-believer to lift up Jesus to the lost for whom I am burdened so that they may see Him as their Savior and be drawn to Him for their salvation. And may I never be ashamed of the message of the cross, which is the power of God unto salvation, nor of obstructing the cross from the plain view of others. Amen.